The setting sells UbiSoft's latest tactical shooter. With news helicopters swirling above hampering progress, smoke billowing from familiar landmarks and an eerie sense that this is all possible, Rainbow Six Vegas forcefully positions itself on American soil. Rarely can you find a single-player experience as gripping as this.
Taking a small three-man squad into a variety of true-to-life locales, Rainbow Six is, however, plodding and slow-paced. While hardly as complex as it used to be, tactics are still a critical factor in survival. You can command your squad to perform a number of actions, and they'll intelligently respond. If you lead them into an area that draws fire, they fall away from your direct order to find the nearest cover.
The interface makes this as intuitive as possible. The A button handles numerous functions, and at times it can become an issue. Opening a door, commanding a team to prepare to open one, or putting a snake camera under to gauge the scenario inside can lead to some unexpected deaths. When it works, you can command your team to specifically take out a target or focus on another when they enter. It's brilliantly conceived and tactical enough that some of the lesser realism aspects can be forgiven.
Vegas starts off slowly, and completely out of the environment you'll be led to. Once inside United States territory, you can immediately tell where you are. This is a stunningly beautiful game, complete with moments that lead to sheer awe or emotion. The story ends up leading to a dead end that will feel familiar to first-person shooter fans, but the events leading up to it are unforgettable.
Online play opens up an entirely new portion of the game if the eight hours of solo play wasn't enough. By far the best feature is the face-mapping option. Using the Xbox Live Vision camera, you'll take a picture and the game does a surprising job of wrapping it onto the player model. Once into an online match, your face adorns the character.